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The Hudson gymnastics team finished second out of six teams with 139.275 points in the Valley Division of the Northeast Ohio Conference Feb. 2 at Medina High School.
Strongsville edged out the Lady Explorers with 139.65 points. North Royalton (136.05) placed third.
"It's always heartbreaking to lose when the scores are this tight, but Strongsville has some very talented gymnasts and they hit when they needed to hit and we didn't," Hudson head coach Randi Chepke said. "It's as simple as that.
Mackenzie Miller earned all-conference honors after placing second in the all-around scoring (35.8) and second on the bars (9.1) for the Lady Explorers. Teammate Logan Custer also received all-conference honors after placing first on the floor exercise (9.3325) and second on the balance beam (9). Custer placed third in the all-around scoring (35.725).
Miller added a fifth on vault (8.8) and finished sixth on the floor (9.15) and the beam (8.75). Custer also placed fourth on bars (9) and eighth on vault (8.4).
"Putting two kids in the top three on three out of the four events and Mac earning the second place spot and Logan in third in the all-around certainly makes us proud -- and hopeful," Chepke said. "I can't say enough about the work ethic, dedication and high level performances we've been getting from Mac and Logan. They've been working tirelessly in practice to gain consistency in their events. There's no major skill addition here -- just good old repetitions to make them the best routines they can give."
Hudson's Teghan Piper finished tied for third on the floor (9.25) and sixth on bars (8.8).
"Teghan Piper had an impressive day on a couple of events," Chepke said. "She is still recovering from illness, but she nailed her floor routine."
Also contributing to the team score for the Lady Explorers were Jordan Miller, who competed on the floor (9.1), vault (8.3), bars (8) and beam (8); Riley Skinner on beam (8.35) and Megan Urbanic on vault (7.95).
"Jordan Miller stepped it up a notch and grabbed her first 9.1 to round out our overall floor score," Chepke said. "In fact, we were the highest scoring team on floor at the meet -- no easy feat considering the top-notch talent in the NOC."
The Lady Explorers had some success on vault, but there is room for improvement.
"We also managed to bump up our vault score a bit, which was a major goal of the meet and hit four 9-pluses on floor ex again -- all significant hurdles," Chepke said. "We still faltered on vault a bit. We managed to get a few more flippers into the lineup in Logan and Jordan, but they've got a ways to go to really earn the kind of numbers we need here.
"Hopefully, once Teghan is back to full speed, she'll start pulling the kind of vaults we saw out of her at the beginning of the season to give us that last boost."
Hudson is still a long way from mastering the beam.
"Probably our biggest mistakes came on beam," Chepke said. "It wasn't the falls this time. We didn't count any falls, but I've never seen the girls look so nervous up there. I've said it before and I'll say it again, beam is probably our strongest overall event. We've got the stuff, but we let our nerves get the best of us and wobbled like we were performing on tightropes."
The Lady Explorers will have plenty of time to work on their routines. Their next scheduled date is at a Division I sectional meet Feb. 17 at West Geauga High School in Chesterland. The meet is set to begin at 9 a.m.
"We've got two weeks to iron out the wrinkles and if we can build on the improvements we made at the conference meet, we have a chance to go all the way," Chepke said. "But anything can happen between now and states. There's still plenty of work to do."